Sunday, May 17, 2009

New York Times: Brother Can You Spare a Loan?

The New York Times has an article about p2p lending this morning. Here's an excerpt:

The debt supply was abundant back in 2005, when Renaud Laplanche dreamed up Lending Club, now one of the best known of a batch of companies that have added Web-enabled “peer to peer” lending to the ways that individuals can borrow money. Like many online innovations, it adds scale to an old idea. In this case the old idea is borrowing money from your social network — “social network” having morphed from the people you have a personal connection to into its contemporary iteration of people connected by computer screens and servers. While starting up another company, Laplanche found it financially advantageous to borrow from friends, and he wondered whether an Internet version of this idea could be created for people without flush contacts.

...Certainly the credit crunch that started last year has made a lot more people interested in new forms of borrowing. “To some extent, we got lucky,” Laplanche admits. A little more than half of the requests involve restructuring current debt with better terms. These really took off recently, as credit-card companies jacked up rates on some balances. Meanwhile, someone has borrowed $25,000 to finish a recycling plant in Uganda; others are paying off college loans or covering medical bills. And some requests seem surprisingly dissonant with the downturn: home-renovation projects, somebody asking to borrow a few grand to take the family to Disney World, a triathlete who wants a new bike. “There’s a guy buying a pony,” Laplanche adds.

Open an account with Lending Club here.

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